What Is A Therapist?

Medically reviewed by Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC
Updated August 16, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It is becoming more socially acceptable to attend therapy. Many people experience mental health concerns, and for many, therapy has become an essential part of their lives. Working with a counselor can help people experiencing eating disorders, addiction to drugs, anger concerns, relationship problems, and much more.

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Wondering How a Therapist Can Help You?
According to the Collins English Dictionary, the word “therapist” means "a person who is skilled in a particular type of therapy." Therapies can include many different kinds of assistance, from massage therapy to help people relax, to physical therapy to help people recover from surgery, to psychological therapy. Even within the field of mental health counseling, there can be different types of therapists. 

Therapy for mental health concerns often involves a counselor talking to a patient to determine what is going on in their lives. Patients will open up about what is bothering them, and the therapist will listen while offering suggestions for how they can make certain changes. For example, if a patient is experiencing anxiety, a therapist may offer helpful coping strategies for reducing stress, such as journaling or meditation.

Some therapists practice cognitive behavioral therapy, Irvin Yalom group therapy, or psychoanalytical therapy. Therapists can treat patients using these different kinds of therapy to help them resolve problems in their lives.

Wondering How To Become A Therapist? 

If you are interested in becoming a counselor, whether that be a speech therapist, psychotherapist, or someone who practices other therapies, you will need to earn a degree. Most therapists earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Some therapists also earn bachelor’s degrees in related fields and then move into working as a therapist afterward.

Many jobs for therapists also require a master’s degree. After earning the proper degree, a therapist will need to become licensed to practice therapy. A prospective counselor is going to need to complete two years of supervised clinical experience before being eligible to take the therapy license exam. There are state licensure exams and professional exams to consider. Requirements for therapist licensure will depend on your location.

It can take a lot of work to become a counselor. It is not an easy career to embark upon, but it can be very satisfying for those who have a passion for helping people.

What It Takes To Be A Therapist

Being a counselor is all about helping others.  The role of counselor can be a challenging career, and you will be trying to help people during their lowest moments in life. It can be a mentally exhausting job, but it can also be very satisfying.

Being a successful counselor takes qualities such as patience and compassion. The ability to empathize with your patients is key, but you also need to be able to look at situations objectively so that you can help people to address their concerns.


Therapist Mindset & Means

A therapist’s goal is always to help your patient overcome the issues that they are facing. To accomplish this task, you have to do your best to guide your patient, using talk therapy and other therapeutic methods. It is also imperative that you maintain an open mind and avoid casting judgment on your patients. 

As a therapist, you may have to help address difficult topics. People seek out therapy during many different periods of their lives. Even when conversations are uncomfortable, you must maintain an air of neutral curiosity to facilitate continuous progress. 

Also, a good counselor should have an inquisitive nature. As a counselor, you should enjoy learning about people and be the type of person who wants to take conversations deeper to help your patients recognize their symptoms.

Helping people reach their mental health goals can take significant time and effort, but it can be one of the most rewarding career paths to embark on. 

How To Find A Therapist

If you are interested in becoming a therapist, you may want to speak to someone who is already practicing therapy. It can also be helpful to speak to a counselor to better understand your own mental health before attempting to help other people with theirs.

Finding a good counselor is important, and you want to take your time to look into your options. You’ll want to make sure a prospective counselor is operating a successful practice and that they have experience with providing the type of therapy that you need. There are many types of therapy, so you will want to be specific about the particular type of therapy you're looking for when searching for a therapist.

Using online resources to their full potential is going to make finding a good counselor a lot simpler. You can easily look at counselor reviews and make your own decision about whether or not a particular counselor is going to be a good fit for you. You can also learn more about the type of therapy you hope to receive.

Take your time to go through the options. You may feel like you want to start therapy right away, but it is beneficial to look into what is available before moving forward. Sometimes you will even find that traditional therapy options might not be very practical for your situation. In this case, you may want to consider the many benefits of online therapy.

Wondering How a Therapist Can Help You?

Online Therapy

Online therapy is a fantastic option for anyone who is seeking therapy. You can receive therapy without even having to leave your home. Online therapy allows you to speak to your counselor in the form of video chat, over the telephone, or even through e-mail.

Online therapists are just as qualified as those who are practicing at traditional therapy offices. They are fully licensed and experienced therapists and doctors who know how to help you out. It may be easier to find a counselor that is experienced with the type of therapy that you need online. 

The Online Therapy Method: When? Where? It's All Up To You

Online therapy allows you to receive various types of therapy without having to worry about how you can fit it into your schedule. You can even schedule sessions over the weekend! An online therapy team often winds up being far more practical for busy professionals and those who have children. 

Online therapy is also great for people who want to seek out therapy in a more discreet manner. You can get the right help without having to fear that anyone is judging you, making it far easier to focus on healing. 


If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or any other type of mental health condition, or if you want to learn more about the mental health counseling profession, it can be helpful to talk to a therapist. Skilled therapists are ready to help you. 

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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